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How AHCA Could Affect Employers, Employees

By Gregory A. Freeman  
   June 14, 2017

Even if required benefits are trimmed in the next version of the American Health Care Act, the employer market is not likely to react soon. Employers do need to brace for more price sensitivity, however.

The potential changes to healthcare plans resulting from Republican efforts to reform the Affordable Care Act could have far reaching effects for some consumers. But those who receive insurance coverage through their employers will be slow to feel any impact, says one analyst.

That doesn't mean employers can rest easy, however, because they must still adjust to the growing price sensitivity of their employees.

Republicans in the Senate have not yet released their bill for reforming Obamacare, which is expected to pull back on some provisions of the House bill such as those trimming the essential health benefits.

On Tuesday, President Trump characterized the House-passed healthcare bill as "mean" and urged lawmakers to come up with a version that is "more generous."

But even if the House bill as it stands now were to become law, it would be years before there was any real impact on the employer market, says Kim Buckey, healthcare regulations expert and vice president of client services at DirectPath.

The company provides strategic employee engagement, compliance management, and benefits plan management services for Fortune 1000 companies.

"First, states would have to elect to waive essential health benefits, then, we'd have to see the first 'brave' employers decide to base their plans on one of those pared back definitions. That would affect annual and lifetime coverage limits and out-of-pocket limits," Buckey says.

"Since we know how important health insurance is to employees and prospective employees, employers will be very cautious about adopting such a change given the potential impact on employee attraction and retention."

Gregory A. Freeman is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.

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